Well, I'm glad conditions have "improved"!
New details have emerged of how the growing number of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay are being tied down and force-fed through tubes pushed down their nasal passages into their stomachs to keep them alive. They routinely experience bleeding and nausea, according to a sworn statement by the camp's chief doctor, seen by The Observer.
'Experience teaches us' that such symptoms must be expected 'whenever nasogastric tubes are used,' says the affidavit of Captain John S Edmondson, commander of Guantánamo's hospital. The procedure - now standard practice at Guantánamo - 'requires that a foreign body be inserted into the body and, ideally, remain in it.' But staff always use a lubricant, and 'a nasogastric tube is never inserted and moved up and down. It is inserted down into the stomach slowly and directly, and it would be impossible to insert the wrong end of the tube.' Medical personnel do not insert nasogastric tubes in a manner 'intentionally designed to inflict pain.'
It is painful, Edmonson admits. Although 'non-narcotic pain relievers such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient, sometimes stronger drugs,' including opiates such as morphine, have had to be administered.
Thick, 4.8mm diameter tubes tried previously to allow quicker feeding, so permitting guards to keep prisoners in their cells for more hours each day, have been abandoned, the affidavit says. The new 3mm tubes are 'soft and flexible'.
Nietzsche was right, and the only question now is: how much of a dragon do we want to become, in order to fight this dragon the President and the GOP say we must be afraid of?
By the way, the number of hunger strikers jumped significantly on Christmas Day. This Observer story presents a new wrinkle, from what I've found via Google. The BBC also has a story on the numbers increasing, but at that point the military was still refusing to give any information about the striker's medical condion.
The Observer story may be a breach in that dam.
And there is a constitutional issue in all of this:
This and other Guantánamo lawsuits now face extinction. Last week, President Bush signed into law a measure removing detainees' right to file habeas corpus petitions in the US federal courts. On Friday, the administration asked the Supreme Court to make this retroactive, so nullifying about 220 cases in which prisoners have contested the basis of their detention and the legality of pending trials by military commission.As well as a legal issue:
Article 5 of the 1975 World Medical Association Tokyo Declaration, which US doctors are legally bound to observe through their membership of the American Medical Association, states that doctors must not undertake force-feeding under any circumstances. Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth's hospital in Birmingham, is co-ordinating opposition to the Guantánamo doctors' actions from the international medical community. 'If I were to do what Edmondson describes in his statement, I would be referred to the General Medical Council and charged with assault,' he said.As I said, we are becoming dragons, in order to fight dragons. We continue to confess to illegal activities.
Do our enemies endanger us? Or do we endanger ourselves?